The Battle for First Loser in the Mobile Device Market

Hot on the heels of ‘Android will never compete with iOS’, there was the phrase: ‘Windows phone will never gain traction in the market’. The other day, it was reported in a number of European markets Windows 8 phones have somehow caught 10 percent market share and over all, it has something like 9.1 percent.

Now before everyone gets all over me for saying that’s something it isn’t, the thing to look at here is the trend line, not a point in time. As Blackberry will eventually bow out of the competition, that essentially makes Windows number three in the market. My real question is, could it become number two in the market?

Microsoft (and Nokia) have been pulling out all the stops to make Widows Phone a success.

That two-spot is currently held by Apple. As the first sentence indicates, they’ve been settling in to that spot for a while now. Apple’s innovation drive looks to have petered out since Steve left. Say what you will about iPhone5S/C, it’s essentially been the same phone for the past few years with modest updates and what amounts to cosmetic changes. The future doesn’t look that much brighter, either, as Apple, in an alarmingly ham-fisted manner, tries to court the more cost-averse market segments.

Conversely, the innovation engine in Apple’s competitors, including Microsoft, have been going full-steam for quite some time. Despite all of our product line dilution fears, Samsung has been churning out new models, probing nearly every sort of shape and configuration the market can ask for – and with great success. Eventually after Microsoft’s own products proves out the market, the same diaspora of devices will show up in Windows dress. Against that, Apple will have a difficult time catching up.

Now it seems Microsoft has been shoring up their mobile device position while throwing a lot of things against the wall to see what sticks. The purchase of Nokia allows them to make sure they can launch a perfect reference model to show off all of the capability Windows 8 has to offer. And like it or not, if Microsoft can machete through their corporate channels and let their designers actually touch product, they may start making some scary shots on goal.

Microsoft is also quite hungry for wins in the category. They know their future is tied to mobile, and they have a ways to catch up. When things get backed into corners, they usually start lashing out rather violently. Watching the ads put out in the tablet battles, Microsoft is not pulling any punches. It won’t be that hard for them to start poking at the tired iOS user interface, that’s been essentially unchanged since Apple launched the iPhone (No, I do not count subtly changing the style of icons, ‘innovation’ and neither should you). This makes the question not if Microsoft will show up to compete, it’s whether Apple has anything left in the tank to hold them off.




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